Plasma vs Xfce comparison

With all the talk about lean DE’s, I would like for someone to consider discussing this choice at little more.

I’ve been using Xfce for some time now and it’s the only DE that I know how to configure to my tastes. I don’t look forward to learning a new DE. However, maybe it’s time. Also, for newcomer’s, what information between the two DE’s would help them decide?

Is Plasma lean enough now, that the extra features are worth the move? Even on resource constrained systems? If so, I’d like to hear some opinions from others.

I’ve never installed Plasma, so I don’t know very much about it. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Plasma as compared to Xfce?

Would love to see a Plasma vs Xfce shootout type video. I’m ready to have my brain filled. Any takers?

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These 2 being my favourite DEs, I’ve got a few points of comparison:

1: Plasma is updated constantly, with tweaks and fixes with suggestions from the community taken into consideration. The KDE Devs are very responsive and constantly active. XFCE on the other hand sees updates rarely, and community suggestions tend to be ignored.

2: Plasma is a lot slicker, modern and more professional looking than XFCE. XFCE has its charm, certainly given as it’s my 2nd favourite DE, but in terms of overall presentation and day to day use, Plasma wins out in the aesthetic category.

3: Plasma has WAY more configuration options than XFCE. You can view this as a positive or negative depending on how much you like to tinker…

4: Plasma used to be a much heavier desktop experience than XFCE, which was a major plus point for XFCE, however certainly with 5.17 Plasma is as fast if not more so than XFCE on a modern system. I’ve not tried it on a resource constrained system which is where XFCE traditionally shone, but I’d have a feeling Plasma would give it a run for its money there too.

5: Plasma’s handling of panels on 2 monitors is far superior to XFCE, which for someone who has 2 monitors in work and at home is a huge plus.

6: XFCE has one advantage over Plasma: Wallpapers on virtual desktops. XFCE will allow you to set a different wallpaper per monitor (as does Plasma), but it will also allow you to set completely different wallpapers per-monitor per-virtual desktop. So if you have 2 monitors and 2 virtual desktops, XFCE will allow you to set 4 different wallpapers in total across both. Plasma has Activities where you can set differing wallpapers, but I personally don’t use them at all as I don’t really see the point of them, as I feel do a lot of other Plasma users.

For me Plasma is my favourite DE. XFCE used to be my favourite while I thought KDE was tacky and plastic looking, but after giving Plasma a proper go and trying out all the configuration and theming options, it’s now firmly overtaken XFCE as my DE of choice.

This is my current Plasma desktop at home running on Manjaro:


Shameless related plug:


Jason your podcast was what prompted me to take a closer look at Plasma.

Jason: Plasma is actually much lighter than you think.
Mr_McBride: oh cool, wish someone had told me before

Michael for many years: Plasma is actually much lighter than you think


oh that’s awesome!

Getting to the root of your question, though, I too would love to see a dissection of both DEs, preferably from someone more talented in the video production realm than myself :smiley:

I agree that as great as Plasma is, the configuration options can be overwhelming. Hoping they trim the fat for Plasma 5.18 (in February or so?)

Damn you guys, the both of you. And @dasgeek too, and @linuxninja. Because of you I downloaded Manjaro today.

I’ll have the lot of you know that I was perfectly happy with MX-19. As a matter of fact, I just sent them a donation for their hard work.

Pretty soon, you’ll probably have me saying “BTW, I run Arch”.

, “resistance is futile, you will be assimilated”…


Like @Sar I find both desktops great but use Xfce because I find it simpler and with less ‘distraction’ because it is true. Plasma has tons of options and they are great but I tend to find it overwhelming. If you like more power then take Plasma.

Both are similarly lean and I saw KDE Neon using less resources than Fedora with Xfce for example but it depends on the distro and its configuration and what applications you use. So I think both are equal here.

On older systems both work perfectly, where Gnome would stall the whole system, but I think on some dated hardware Xfce performs a little better, especially CPU wise. So the RAM they use is actually very similar and again depending on the distro’s configuration.

If you want more power, more features, options and possibilities to configure your system go with Plasma. It is worth it even on older hardware because you will get more for your ‘money’.

If you like it a bit simpler like me or prefer Gtk apps, of course they work on Plasma too, then Xfce does the job as good as Plasma but I also agree that Plasma looks more modern though I prefer functionality over looks. I mean even Gnome looks sexy but that is all.

I agree with the frequent updates but, to be fair, the XFCE team is minuscule compared to KDE’s team. They do claim to be moving toward more frequent releases but they have many fewer people so the releases will be much smaller in scope.

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Perhaps sadly, Xfce dev Sean Davis even admitted to me that KDE Plasma will probably surpass Xfce in terms of “leanness” in 2020 – because their resources are so small :frowning:


I think the XFCE project is important and I’d definitely like to see it survive and improve for many years to come. One of my reasons for being so interested in Linux from Scratch and Beyond Linux from Scratch is I expect working through those projects to help me get to grips with current real-world build-systems as a precursor to considering coding on many of the valued open-source projects out there. It’s likely I will be looking closely at XFCE when I am able.



Yeah, it’s a big shame. Perhaps community contributions & suggestions being taken on board would help a lot here, maybe make XFCE more of a community built thing with patches & changes curated by the XFCE devs? It’s one way around having a smaller team, have others propose supplied code additions & changes.

That would be awesome :+1: :smiley:


I wouldn’t count on it. Having lost of configuration options is staple of KDE and reason most KDE fans like it. People who don’t like it simply use different DEs or don’t go into options. I see no point in making KDE less KDE-like.


I’ve made it to day-6 with Plasma and today it hit me, “this really does look better”.

Ok, I’ll keep it. Plasma conversion complete.


I’m seriously thinking about putting one of my computers on Plasma - what (if anything) did you do to the default setup?!?

Watched too many youtube viddy’s.

I really have not done that much. I’ve cleaned up the panel and have added Latte Dock. Very MacOS looking, but that is what I’m used to. Got rid of the single-click nonsense. Picked a decent looking wallpaper for the desktop and login screen. Configured power saving settings, screen-lock, and installed the apps I use.

I’m still learning Plasma…I’m sure I will make more chances as I learn more.


The biggest thing for me is picking a decent theme and font. But that’s the same with any DE really tbh.

I don’t use widgets (or plasmoids) on the desktop, but I do tend to use the more simple start menu alternative, as I’m not a fan of the default initial Plasma Start Menu. Beyond that, stuff is just tweaked to refine it to my taste.

While the defaults are great and everything is perfectly usable OOTB, there are a lot of options to change stuff in Plasma, so start small and build from there, and you can end up with a really nice looking and very usable setup.

Good point. A good ( dark ) theme and decent icon set really adds a lot.

On another note, this has nothing to do with Plasma or Xfce, but a comparison between Manjaro and MX. I ran full disk encryption on both and MX gives you a nice gui to enter your passphrase. Manjaro does not and it takes Manjaro 8x to 10x longer for decryption. So, long that I thought something was wrong and that it wasn’t working. This is just an observation. I have not looked into the level of encryption each of the two distro’s use.

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I tried LUKS with Endeavour & Salient, and it didn’t work great IMO. Maybe Arch-based systems don’t much like encryption as much as debian-based distros?

I’m not having any issues with it not working. I was just making an observation that the decryption process takes longer. It’s really a minor point IMHO.